Cidu Bill on Sep 26th 2017

Metatext: “Since the current Twitter threadfall kicked off in
early 2016, we can expect it to continue until the mid 2060s
when the next Interval begins.”

Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, comic strips, comics, humor, xkcd | 38 responses so far

38 Responses to “F’Nor”

  1. Brian Sep 26th 2017 at 12:28 am 1

    What! Could it be, that there is someone who does not know the wonders of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books? Perhaps many someones? Anyways, thread (coming during “threadfall”) is the threat to life on the planet Pern, coming at multiple decade intervals. This is presumably a simple link between the 2 different usages of the word “thread”.

  2. Arthur Sep 26th 2017 at 12:31 am 2

    I had already looked on explainxkcd.com and found that you need
    to understand both Anne McCaffrey’s Pern and some niceties of
    Twitter usage.

  3. James Pollock Sep 26th 2017 at 12:44 am 3

    In Pern, “thread” is lifeform that falls from the sky during a time when two planets are close enough to allow passage. To fight the falling thread, the settlers on Pern genetically engineered dragons, who fly up and burn the thread in the sky before it can fall to the ground. F’Nor is a dragonrider, a major character in the first three Pern novels, a lesser character in most of the later ones.

    Coincidentally, since we were talking about prequels earlier (well, mostly I was, but lots of y’all weighed in as well), the Pern series is one that has successful prequels, where by “successful” I mean “they tell a complete story, and it is interesting throughout.”

  4. John Small Berries Sep 26th 2017 at 01:26 am 4

    And for the other half of the joke, if one is planning on starting a multi-tweet binge, it’s customary (amongst some) to start it with “Thread:”, so if someone wants to share it, they only need retweet the first one, and those seeing the retweet know that (a) it’s the first in a series, and (b) they can click on it to see the whole collection of tweets.

  5. John Small Berries Sep 26th 2017 at 01:29 am 5

    Harrumph, I don’t know why my previous comment was moderated (I don’t see any potentially problematic words in it).

    Anyway, I liked the earliest prequel (that I know of) for the Pern series, though it suffered from the same “technology remains magically immune to the passage of time” problem that plagued “Battlefield: Earth”. (Though that was probably one of the minor issues with the latter work, in the grand scale of things.)

  6. Dave in Boston Sep 26th 2017 at 03:01 am 6

    The hovertext is incorrect. Threadfalls only last a few hours. It’s Passes that last fifty years.

    (Don’t inquire into the orbital mechanics of the Rukbat system. It doesn’t make any sense, even after it was improved by fans after the first few books.)

  7. Kamino Neko Sep 26th 2017 at 07:47 am 7

    Since nobody else has explained the other half of the joke…

    On Twitter, ‘Thread’ means you intend to post across multiple tweets, because what you have to say won’t fit in 140 characters. At the end of each tweet in the thread, it’s customary to put x/y - where x is the number of tweets that you have made in the thread, and y is the number you intend.

    Occasionally, I’ve seen people who underestimated how long the thread was going to be, and end up with stuff like 8/5 or 15/10.

  8. padraig Sep 26th 2017 at 08:55 am 8

    Let’s let the pros handle this one: http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1893

  9. James Schend Sep 26th 2017 at 10:34 am 9

    I don’t get it, but I do know that he word “Pern” refers to a series of books I’ve never read, so I’m didn’t assume I would get it.

  10. James Pollock Sep 26th 2017 at 10:44 am 10

    “Don’t inquire into the orbital mechanics of the Rukbat system. It doesn’t make any sense”

    There are animals that have evolved the ability to teleport and travel in time in the Pernese ecology.

  11. Christine Sep 26th 2017 at 02:37 pm 11

    Dave in Boston - I love this site, I can feel supported in my nit-picking, because other people notice the same annoying mistakes.

    Did anyone see the real-life version of this? Something along the lines of “We need to discuss how Theseus escaped the Labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur. Thread”

  12. Dave in Boston Sep 27th 2017 at 01:33 am 12

    James: there’s not worrying much about physics, and there’s not being internally self-consistent. The most glaring problem is that the Red Star’s orbital period is 250 years but Long Intervals are 400 years rather than 450.

    Christine: :-)

  13. James Pollock Sep 27th 2017 at 02:10 am 13

    “there’s not worrying much about physics, and there’s not being internally self-consistent.”

    Again, there are organisms in the Pernese ecology who EVOLVED both teleportation AND time travel. Who’s to say there aren’t Red-Star organisms that ALSO do so? You’re blaming something on orbital mechanics that may well be biology.

  14. Dave in Boston Sep 27th 2017 at 02:19 am 14

    How does that explain 20% variation in orbital period? Especially since it’s revealed eventually that gur ybat vagreinyf ner qhr fcrpvsvpnyyl gb wnkbz’f zrqqyvat jvgu gur erq fgne’f beovg.

  15. padraig Sep 27th 2017 at 08:54 am 15

    I see the wonks and boffins at explainxkcd didn’t come up with much on this either, so we shouldn’t feel bad.

  16. Kamino Neko Sep 27th 2017 at 09:00 am 16

    But the joke is quite thoroughly explained both here and there. How can you say either we or they have ‘nothing much’?

  17. Kilby Sep 27th 2017 at 09:47 am 17

    At first I thought Dave was being surrealistically humorous @14, but then I realized that the second half of the sentence is ROT-13 encoded.

  18. Christine Sep 27th 2017 at 11:47 am 18

    Dave and James Pollock - I think it’s Masterharper of Pern (about Robinton as a child) where she retcons the lengths of the Long Intervals to make more sense. Nsgre nyy, gur ybat vagreinyf jrera’g pnhfrq ol pubccvat 50 lrnef bhg bs gur Erq Fgne’f beovg, ohg ol fuvsgvat vg fb gung vg jnfa’g pybfr rabhtu qhevat gubfr 50 lrnef.

    The Pern series was most definitely not written for people who worry about details or consistency. Thinking about her CV at that point, it makes sense.

  19. Irene Sep 27th 2017 at 12:01 pm 19

    I have long had explainxkcd.com bookmarked for just these occasions.

  20. James Pollock Sep 27th 2017 at 12:20 pm 20

    “How does that explain 20% variation in orbital period?”
    Easy. There is no 20% variation in orbital period. Thread can travel in time and space without having to travel through the intervening time and/or space. This means that orbital period has nothing to do with when or where they appear.
    So your assumptions about orbital period, which are based on the appearance or non-appearance of Thread, are not valid.

    Poor Ms. McCaffrey passed away before she could write the novel of the tenth pass, which came as a huge surprise to the Pernese, who thought they’d solved the problem by moving the planet.

    The reason there are long intervals is because sometimes, there’s something good on thread TV, and they don’t want to leave home and miss it.

  21. Mark in Boston Sep 27th 2017 at 07:44 pm 21

    Why is there an apostrophe in F’nor? Does it have a sound value, like a hiccup? Is it a contraction, like McNee contracts to M’Nee? FcNor? Or was it just put there by the same guy who sells hot dog’s and hamburger’s?

  22. Susan T-O Sep 27th 2017 at 09:21 pm 22

    Mark in Boston: When a boy becomes a dragonrider, his name is shortened as an honorific. Parents of children likely to become dragonriders tend to pick names that can be easily shortened. Oddly enough, female riders do not have shortened names.

  23. larK Sep 27th 2017 at 09:24 pm 23

    It’s an honorific for male dragonriders. Should you Impress a dragon, you would be M’rk.

  24. Kilby Sep 27th 2017 at 11:32 pm 24

    Having decoded all of the carefully encrypted phrases so far (but never having read a word of anything McCaffrey has written), I simply cannot understand just how any of them could be considered a “spoiler”. Orbital mechanics just doesn’t seem to provide the same sort of momentous doom as (for instance) discovering that one’s father (or mother) were a dragon (or a Sith).

  25. Dave in Boston Sep 28th 2017 at 01:03 am 25

    James, that line of reasoning leads nowhere useful or illuminating.

  26. James Pollock Sep 28th 2017 at 01:28 am 26

    “James, that line of reasoning leads nowhere useful or illuminating.”

    Please address your complaint to Ms. McCaffrey. (And also whoever told you it made sense to criticize fantasy for not being scientifically accurate.)
    I mean, it’s fine to complain that Larry Niven had the world rotating backwards in Ringworld. And also for not noticing that a ringworld is not stable in three dimensions. Ringworld is a science-fiction novel. But complaining that Galadriel’s magic ring violates conservation of energy or that a novel that features time travel has timing that is off, well… that line of reasoning leads nowhere.

    “Orbital mechanics just doesn’t seem to provide the same sort of momentous doom…”

    Things were different in 1951, I guess.

    (See also “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon”, both released in 1998. And “Gravity” is only a couple of years old, and their orbital dynamics are all wrong, too.)

  27. Dave in Boston Sep 28th 2017 at 01:32 am 27

    Kilby: context is everything. “Thread” is a biohorror that will digest everything and anything carbon-based in its path in seconds. It falls to the ground from space in multi-hour episodes (”threadfalls”) that come every few days or less for fifty years at a time. It has to be stopped if you want to have a biosphere to live in. It’s associated with a minor planet (the “Red Star”) that has a 250-year elliptical orbit.
    Needless to say all this is by far the dominant factor in the socioeconomics of Pern (which is a splinter colony with a-late-Iron-Age tech level at best) so the existence and basic properties of this minor planet are crucial.
    The climax of one of the later books (not one of the better ones, though mostly for other reasons) is fhpprffshyyl fuvsgvat gur erq fgne’f beovg gb raq gur zranpr.
    As I was saying above though the details aren’t really that coherent; narratively this doesn’t particularly matter but it’s annoying to fans.
    (Who are legion; these books are probably the most influential fantasy/SF of the 80s, full stop, and I say this fully aware that most of the seminal works of cyberpunk come from the same period.)

  28. Dave in Boston Sep 28th 2017 at 01:36 am 28

    James… don’t patronize me.
    And I think perhaps it’s time I left for a while again.

  29. James Pollock Sep 28th 2017 at 03:25 am 29

    “which is a splinter colony with a-late-Iron-Age tech level at best”

    They have telegraphy, implemented as a curiosity but not widely deployed. They have germ theory of disease, but not surgery. They have genetically-engineered flora and fauna. Late in the series, they discover relics of the original colonization, which substantially alters the state of technology.

    “James… don’t patronize me.”
    Was *I* the one complaining about orbital mechanics in a fantasy novel?
    Why not start small, and complain about the flight dynamics of a 4-ton flying animal?

  30. Kilby Sep 28th 2017 at 04:35 am 30

    @ Dave (28) - Please don’t leave us on that account. It is incredibly useful to have an additional voice of rational, non-argumentative politeness around, it helps balance things out.

  31. Kamino Neko Sep 28th 2017 at 06:11 am 31

    Mark - it’s an abbreviation. It’s a tradition for male dragonriders to drop part of their name upon imprinting with a dragon. F’nor’s original name was Famanoran.

  32. Kamino Neko Sep 28th 2017 at 06:13 am 32

    Oops, I missed Susan’s post. Sorry, Susan, I see you filled Mark in.

  33. larK Sep 28th 2017 at 11:10 am 33

    *Tap* *Tap* — Is this thing on?

  34. Mark in Boston Sep 28th 2017 at 10:55 pm 34

    So if your name was Firetruck and you started riding a dragon …?

  35. Kamino Neko Sep 28th 2017 at 11:03 pm 35

    F’ruck, most likely. They always seem to go consonant-to-consonant.

  36. Kilby Sep 29th 2017 at 05:32 am 36

    @ Kamino Neko (35) - I think MiB’s was suggesting an even shorter (but still consonant to consonant) abbreviation @34: “F’ck

    P.S. I have no idea whether this is going to make it past the moderation filter.

  37. Kilby Sep 29th 2017 at 05:33 am 37

    P.P.S. What a surprise (@36)!

  38. Kjbrasda Oct 2nd 2017 at 03:14 am 38

    To expand on the joke, the tweet uses sensationalist click bait language. In the series, F’nor is one of the characters that warns of impending return of thread, when most the population believes it will never return or that it is a myth. The warnings are viewed as an alarmist attempt to justify dragon riders continued existance.

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